Mark Appel signed quickly with Houston for nearly $1.5 million less than the recommended slot bonus for the No. 1 overall pick and now the Astros are making plans for his professional debut.
Appel hasn’t done any throwing since being drafted, but Brian Smith of the Houston Chronicle reports that he’s set to begin a throwing program after meeting with the Astros’ brass at their spring training complex in Florida.
Next on the agenda will be some simulated game action, followed by joining a rookie-ball team, with Appel’s minor-league debut likely taking place in early July.
Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.
Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.
When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.
Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.